- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS)
and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
(ATSDR) have released for public comment a
health assessment on the Puchack Well Field (PDF 132K) in Pennsauken,
Camden County. The public may submit written comments on the assessment
through January 7, 2002.
draft assessment concludes that the well field represented a public
health hazard in the past due to a completed human exposure pathway
to certain contaminants in drinking water drawn from the site, although
the public health significance of this exposure is unknown. The
site is not considered a present health hazard as all the contaminated
wells are out of service.
Puchack Well Field was one of three well fields that supplied drinking
water to the City of Camden. The 10-acre site contained seven wells
and all have been removed from service: one well was destroyed during
the building of the Betsy Ross Bridge, and the remaining six were
closed down between 1975 and 1998.
the early 1970s, several contaminants - including chromium and mercury
- and volatile organic compounds - including trichloroethylene and
tetrachloroethylene - were found in one of the Puchack wells. Subsequently,
the contamination spread to the other wells in the Puchack Well
site was placed on the National Priorities List (commonly known
as the Superfund Site List) in 1998, and various state and federal
agencies - including the New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection, the United States Geological Survey, and the United
States Environmental Protection Agency have been working to determine
the scope of contamination, identify the contamination sources,
and design possible remediation alternatives.
the residents of the City of Camden were exposed to contaminated
water from the Puchack Well Field in the past, it is difficult to
determine the amount of exposure to any individual. The water from
the site was mixed with water from uncontaminated wells as it traveled
from the well field to each home. As a result, some people would
have had higher exposure than others based on where along the distribution
system they lived, their water consumption habits and what wells
were in use at the time. Due to these factors, it is unknown what
health risks people face from these past exposures.
DHSS and ATSDR report that although it is unlikely that health effects
would occur from the levels of contamination that have been found
at the Puchack Well Field, adverse health outcomes cannot be ruled
out without additional investigations of the community's health.
The agencies will develop a plan to evaluate health outcome data
in the areas of the city that received water from the contaminated
wells. They will also meet with local health officials and community
leaders to develop plans to learn more about community needs as
they pertain to this site.
DHSS and the ATSDR are also recommending the continued sampling
and testing of groundwater wells that were built to monitor movement
of the contamination plume and its possible spread to other community
supply wells in the area.
public is invited to submit written comments on the draft health
assessment through January 7, 2002, to: Health Assessment Project
Manager, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Consumer
and Environmental Health Services, P.O. Box 369, Trenton NJ 08625-0369.
of the document and an accompanying citizens' guide (English
- PDF 20K, Spanish
- PDF 16K) are available for public review at the Camden County
Department of Health, Jefferson House, Lakeland Road, in Blackwood;
and at several local libraries, including the Camden County Library,
418 Federal Street; the Cooper Library, 6th & Erie Streets;
the Fairview Library, 1503 Collings Road; and the Isabel Miller
Library, 8th & Van Hook Streets.
may also be obtained by calling the New Jersey Department of Health
and Senior Services at 609-588-3120, or by visiting the department's
web site at www.state.nj.us/health.
A Spanish version of the citizens' guide will be posted on the website
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